Holiday I-Remember-Whens


Gracious in Receiving

   I have learned some valuable lessons from Christmastime as a child from my mother, specifically how to be gracious and aware of others.

   As it was growing closer to Christmas, I noticed some of my favorite toys were disappearing. I looked all over the house and couldn’t find them anywhere. A few weeks before Christmas, I noticed a very shoddily wrapped present under the tree. Because of how poorly it was wrapped, it was easy to see what it was. It was my toy! On the tag, with little boy’s handwriting it said, “To Dave with love, from Brian” (my little brother). This continued as the tree filled with all of my old toys being re-wrapped to me.

   I went to my mom. How dare my little brother steal my toys and make it so I can’t play with them while they sit under the tree?! My mom said, “Brian knows how much you love those toys, and he wanted to give you something special for Christmas. He wrapped them all himself. No matter what the gift might be, remember that it is just as important to be gracious in receiving the gift as it is to give the gift.”

   That stayed with me. I was so grateful to my little brother for knowing me enough to know what I loved and wanting to give me that joy. I was so happy to open those gifts from my brother and see those toys again. Years later, it became a tradition for my brother to re-wrap me something that I loved, and I always looked forward to receiving that gift from him.

— David Paul Smith, Youth Theater Director at the Hale Center Theater Orem


It Glows in My Memory

   The past few years, my family has experienced grief and loss as beloved family members have passed on. The Christmas season seems to make that loss all the more poignant. Though there is still grief, there is also a richness and appreciation for spending time with those who are still with us.

   Last Christmas, my family traded our snow-capped Utah mountains for the Southern California beach and spent the week together in a vacation rental. On Christmas Eve, we have a tradition of sharing a meal together, reading the Christmas Story in the Bible and then visiting before swapping sibling gifts. That year, we also added another activity.   

   We put our cellphones into a basket, then passed another basket around with questions on slips of paper. “Why did you choose the career path you chose?” “What is one of your life’s most impactful moments?” “What is an experience you think everyone should have?” We then went around the circle for the next hour or so and shared our answers.

   Though it was a little uncomfortable at first and more vulnerable than my family is used to being with one another, it was a moment that still glows in my memory. I would consider my family close, but it’s not often we open up to each other about our hopes, dreams and personal reflections. It made that Christmas at the beach all the more meaningful.

— Jenessa Van Buren, Associate Director of the Springville Museum of Art


Tears of Laughter

   I was probably around 12 years old, and I was obsessed with making home movies and acting things out. Every Christmas Eve, we read the nativity story out of the New Testament, and I had the brilliant idea to act it out that year because it was really hard for me to focus during “serious” moments. My parents and grandparents agreed with my idea.

   I had to be the director, of course, so I cast my family in their appropriate roles: my mother was Mary, my little brother was the baby Jesus, my grandpa was the angel and narrator, I was Joseph, and my dad I made the donkey. There were many jokes about my dad being the ass as tears of laughter were on everyone’s faces. I don’t remember actually reading the story that Christmas, but the fun we had as a family is the Christmas story we still tell every Christmas.

— Kameron Kavanaugh, Choir Teacher at Spanish Fork Junior High


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